Eugene adds social justice element to history curriculum

      EUGENE, Ore. - History class will take on a new dimension in Eugene schools.

      Beyond dates and facts, students will be asked to look deeper into prejudice, justice and intolerance - while asking the question, "What would I have done in that situation?"

      "The primary goal is that it turns students into thinking about what does it mean to be a bystander versus an upstander or someone or someone who takes an active roll and participates," said Sheldon Berman, the superintendent of the Eugene 4J School District.

      History classes cover the Holocaust, as well as the Rwandan and Cambodian genocides. But history teacher Lisa Iacovetta at Churchill High School said that before the new curriculum, students were left disconnected from the events.

      "There was a sense, 'What can I do? This is bigger than me.' That is the old style of education, and I think this gives us a chance for students to feel empowered and important," she said.

      Iacovetta said this new program will allow students to see themselves as global citizens and will make history more meaningful and more real.

      "For me it brings even the dates and events to life, and I think that's powerful," Iacovetta said.

      The curriculum could also help students find a sense of self.

      "So they know what they believe, what they stand up for and what they're willing to risk something for," she said.

      Berman said students will begin to see that many horrifying events in our history could have been prevented if people had interveened.